Facebook ends initiative to provide wireless internet via drones

Facebook ends initiative to provide wireless internet via drones

Nearly one year ago to the day, Facebook's solar-powered Aquila drone completed a successful test-flight in Arizona, with hopes of one day using the unmanned aerial vehicle and others like it to spread internet access to rural and remote areas across the world. The original plan was to use laser communications links between Aquila drones to provide a backbone network to provide Internet connectivity to ground stations.

Facebook said it had two successful full-scale test flights during the years spent working on the project and noted the initiative took lots of "trial and error".

Facebook's Yael Maguire wrote in a blog post, "We've decided now is the right moment to focus on the next set of engineering and regulatory challenges for HAPS connectivity". Instead of building, Facebook said it will work with partners like Airbus SE on high-altitude connectivity technologies.

After its acquisition by Facebook, Ascenta's engineers worked hard and by 2015 they unveiled a solar powered drone with the wingspan of a Boeing 737. The company is still working on other technologies that can spread online access. But, it has been decided that Facebook's role in that broader provision of the internet would best be served without the Aquila programme.

Internal emails revealed that Andrew Cox, head of the project, and Martin Gomez, Facebook's director of aeronautical platforms, both left the company in May.

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A second test flight of an Aquila drone, which has a wingspan roughly equivalent to a Boeing 737 and is created to be able to fly at altitudes of 60,000 to 90,000 feet, was successful in June 2017.

Facebook's revelation about Aquila came after Business Insider reported on upheaval at the project, including the departure of its leader and a planned redesign.

Facebook is no longer building its own aircraft that was supposed to be part of a project, which aims to bring internet connectivity to secluded regions.

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However, in a message posted for the current week, Facebook said that since it began chipping away at the Aquila drone in 2014, various aviation organizations had started growing high-elevation air ship in view of comparative points.

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